Week 3 – June 25:
It’s Week 3 of CSA deliveries. That means all Large and Small shares in the Twin Cities received their box yesterday on Tuesday, and then on Thursday, Central Minnesota Large shares only will get theirs.
To recap, we went through one full two-week cycle; all small shares received one box and all large shares received two. (Plus, now that this newsletter is arriving a day later than I’d hoped to send it, all Twin Cities folks received one more box yesterday.) We switched drop sites per request for a few customers and accommodated a couple of late pick-ups, but overall the first deliveries went smoothly. If you ran into any issues that we can help fix, please let me know.
No deliveries during 4th of July week
We will postpone deliveries for Week 4 (July 1 – Twin Cities large shares, and July 3 – Central Minnesota large and small shares), and add another delivery week at the end of the season for these two groups. This should help those of you who asked about changing the delivery day around Independence Day! It will also give our fields a chance to dry out and start growing finally. In the late fall, the cool crops that didn’t make it through the May heat wave will grow well again, and you should see bok choi, spinach and mesclun mix in your boxes at that time.
The normal delivery schedule will resume in Week 5 (July 8 – Twin Cities large and small shares, and July 10 – Central MN large shares only).
The Central MN small shares are going to see a big gap in their produce – the next box will come in Week 6, on July 17. By that time, hoop-house tomatoes, zucchini and all sorts of other things should be growing well and ready for harvest.
Here’s a summary:
June 10 – Twin Cities – All
June 12 – Central MN – Large only
June 17 – Twin Cities – Large only
June 19 – Central MN – All
Week 3 (this week)
June 24 – Twin Cities – All
June 26 – Central MN – Large only
July 8 – Twin Cities – All
July 10 – Central MN – Large only
July 15 – Twin Cities – Large only
July 17 – Central MN – All
Please let me know if you have questions. Before you know it, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes, herbs, beans, beets, carrots, squash and more, will be practically growing out of our ears!
Updates from the fields
The majority of the fields are unfortunately still saturated with water. We can’t even walk in them without sinking into mud, much less get more seeds into the ground, nor a tractor to cultivate the things that are already planted…which are badly suffering. It’s been a rough spring so far. The extreme early May heat also put all bok choi, mesclun mix, broccoli raab, spinach, and a few other cold-weather crops to seed almost immediately. That means we need to re-work the soil, wait about two weeks for the soil to do it’s biological thing, and then plant (a different short-season crop) again – once the soil’s not too wet. It’s really quite frustrating to be in this situation – the early heat and too much water are two factors we just cannot control. But on the bright side, there are many, many weeks between now and mid-October, and prime growing conditions will get here eventually!
The only field that isn’t saturated with water right now.
Here’s the work crew who’s paid through the rain, mud, sun, humidity, wind, heat and bugs to harvest and pack your produce: JJ, Luke and Brittney.
These shots were taken after cleaning up – after Brittney lost her shoes in the mud while washing crates! They work hard during the weekly 16-hour harvest/pack process, and we’re lucky to have them.
This week’s box contents & recipes
Tuesday’s boxes to the Twin Cities included:
- Buttercrunch Lettuce
- Snap peas
- Basil (Here’s a recipe for Caprese)
- A braising mix of Green Kale, Yukina Savoy and Baby Bok Choi (We didn’t want to waste the crop even tho it’s in rough shape, so hopefully you can use some of the bok choi and it tastes good.)
- Red Russian Kale (Here’s a new recipe for Kale Soup, which we love!)
I’ll email Central MN contents with the reminder email on Thursday.
In the news
The St. Cloud Times visited the farm a couple of weeks ago for a story about CSAs in the area. Here is the link to the article. The writer got a few facts mixed up (I’m not “voluntarily homeless” anymore – I couch-surfed to save money and stay connected with my community while I was working in the Twin Cities!), and he didn’t have much space to cover the philosophical conversation we had about food, community and nature, but he told a nice story about the folks working hard to provide an alternative to our nation’s conventional food system. The photographer took some nice photos for the printed version, too.
In other news
Our farm mentors from Loon Organics visited Bakers’ Acres last weekend. As part of the Land Stewardship Project’s Journeyperson program and MOSES mentor program, I get to work with two very experienced and very sweet people from Hutchinson – Laura and Adam (and their two-year old son Eli). They have operated their successful, high quality organic farm for many years, and it was nice to hear their guidance and stories as we move into harvest season in our third production year. We talked about what sorts of pest problems begin to crop up after a few years in vegetable production – like flea beetles and leaf hoppers – and about how we can make a transplanter or buy our very own mulch layer eventually.
We also added a new friend to the farm: Merry. We adopted him (yes, he’s a he named Merry) from the co-op manager in St. Joe who moved from the country to the city and couldn’t bring any of her animals along. He loves hanging out with us wherever we go and is very chatty. We hear he’s a good mouser, and any barn can use one of those!
One other thing I’d like to share is a recent quote from the Chair of our Sustainable Farming Association chapter, Jim Chamberlin. He has worked with the Soil & Water Conservation District and now for Happy Dancing Turtle. He is a big proponent of restoration agriculture and agroforestry. You may have heard of “silvopasture” – he uses that word a lot. He is very thoughtful about what sorts of land management practices are being pushed by our government agencies and which he thinks are good or could be better. You’ve probably heard of CRP – the Conservation Reserve Program, incentivized by the USDA and paid for by our tax dollars. Here’s his latest thought-provoking comment to me and several others as we discussed an “Orcharding in the North” event:
“I believe the potential to provide resource restoration in productive agricultural systems is huge but will take a major shift of mindset in both the general public and resource professionals, as well as agricultural policy. We have been stuck in the CRP mindset where land must be “set aside” to provide conservation benefits for at least a couple of decades. Agricultural policy and practice based on “tolerable soil loss” is unacceptable. How to get the general public and policy makers to understand the potential of agroforestry and other ecological based agricultural systems to restore landscape ecology is the challenge we face.”
I like people like him who push ideas forward that challenge us to do things better. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from him!
Here is a reminder for the Festival of Farms event on July 12. Sign up online in advance if you’d like to come visit the farms! www.sfa-mn.org/central
Have a fabulous Independence Day weekend!
Bakers’ Acres, LLC
Week 2 – June 15
Here are some updates and recipes for this week.
On the Farm
This growing season is off to a rough start because of all the rain. The fields have never been this saturated. Too much water makes seeds rot or stunts the growth of transplants like watermelons, so we are a little nervous every day on our field walks, crossing our fingers that all the plants will pull through til we get some warmth, wind and sunshine to dry out the soil. We use drip irrigation on every field to mitigate droughts, but there’s not much we can do about too much rain!
Inside the hoop house, we trellised tomatoes and started new transplants for head lettuce, broccoli and fennel.
In the barn, we finished insulating the indoor pack room and cleaned out the cow stall in the south lean-to.
During the very few dry days we had, the neighbor farmer hayed most of the cows’ pasture – the grass/hay mix was almost three feet high already! Florence and Frankfurt couldn’t keep up. But that’s a good problem to have. The neighbor farmers made 9 round bales.
Here are a few pics from the farm, for those of you who don’t use Facebook.
Farmer Travis transfers his I-94 snowplowing skills to the north field. Here he is, winning the blue ribbon for zero cultivator blight.
You can’t quite see it yet, but that’s sprouting radishes, spinach, romaine, kale, onions, potatoes, and brassica transplants, planted in the north field April 24. And a selfie in the sunset.
CSA deliveries begin mid-June!
Checking off goals on the business development strategy today. 2014 brings us one step closer to a sustainable farming operation: We are paying our small number of employees for the first time.
We have a great crew of volunteers and workers this season including Lisa, Tom, Janet, Travis, Brittney, JJ, Luke and Reed. Some are using the opportunity as a paid internship for their Environmental Studies majors.
Meet two of our new farmers, Brittney and JJ, both Collegeville natives, trying to make in-row weeding look fun.
Right now, we are harvesting buttercrunch lettuce, broccoli, red russian kale, curly-leaf baby kale, romaine lettuce, basil, snap peas, rhubarb, broccoli raab and salad mix. We’ll send a list of actual contents once the packing is complete!
Buttercrunch and Romaine Lettuce
New Plan for Reusable Boxes
We would like to adjust the plan for returning CSA boxes. If possible, please take the box with you when you pick up your share each week, carefully disassemble the box, and store the flat boxes in a safe place. On July 17 (Central Minnesota) and July 22 (Twin Cities), please bring all the boxes along with you when you pick up your share, and we will make a second round through the drop sites to pick them all up. Thank you for your help on this! If it works well, we’ll repeat this process after another few weeks.
We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to grow good food for you.
Bakers’ Acres, LLC